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Everyone’s Irish at Utica St. Paddy’s Day parade

Mike Jaquays
Staff writer
Posted 3/5/23

It’s seeing all of the children enjoying the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade that truly makes it a special time, said event co-organizer David Wood.

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Everyone’s Irish at Utica St. Paddy’s Day parade


UTICA — It’s seeing all of the children enjoying the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade that truly makes it a special time, said event co-organizer David Wood.

“I really enjoy seeing all of the smiling faces on all of the kids,” Wood said.

The annual Utica St. Patrick’s Day Parade once again celebrates all things Irish at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 11, stepping off at Oneida Square and ending at Columbia Street. Co-organizer Patrick McGrath said this year’s parade is the biggest it’s ever been.

“The parade just keep growing and growing,” said McGrath. “We’re over 100 units this year including pipe bands, local businesses and local school groups from our community.”

McGrath hinted that they also have big plans for something brand new at this year’s parade, but he didn’t want to spoil the surprise for those attending.

The parade is also a great opportunity to celebrate a new person to represent the Irish community each year, McGrath said. After helping making the St. Patrick’s Day Parade happen for so many years, it is now Colleen Kain Martin’s turn to actually lead the parade this year.

“She is an Irish person who is involved in every single committee I know of,” McGrath said. “She doesn’t just work on Irish projects but for any other kind of mission that brings good to the community.”

Martin said she never expected that honor when invited to lead the parade in January.

“This was a huge surprise to me — nothing I ever would have imagined,” Martin said. “I am proud to be Irish anyways and to be put into this role really highlights that. I enjoy promoting our culture and helping preserve it too.”

She will wield the official shillelagh — an Irish wooden walking stick with a round top, also sometimes used as a club — received Friday, March 3, in an annual Passing of the shillelagh ceremony at the Irish Cultural Center in Utica.

Paradegoers are encouraged to bring along a non-perishable item — or even a cash donation — for a food drive along the parade route to benefit Mother Marianne’s West Side Kitchen in Utica.

In addition to the parade and shillelagh passing ceremony, there will be other events to celebrate the day.

The Irish flag will be raised over the city at noon Wednesday, March 8. Martin will paint the way for the parade with a green stripe applied along the route at noon Friday, March 10 starting in front of the Stanley Theatre, 259 Genesee St. That same evening, there will be a Mass in Honor of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, at 7 p.m. at St. Joseph and St. Patrick Church, 702 Columbia St.

The St. Patrick’s Day Mad Mile also returns Saturday, March 11. The race kicks off at 9:45 a.m. sharp. Participants will gather at Clinton Place at Genesee Street and move to the starting line on Genesee Street at 9:40 am.

The parade awards ceremony will continue the Irish fun two weeks later with live music and drinks at 3 p.m. Saturday, March 25 at the Celtic Harp, 805 Varick St.

The parade is family-friendly and for everyone regardless of whether they have their own Irish ancestry, Martin said.

“They will all enjoy the parade whether they are Irish all the time or just for the day,” she promised.

For more information on the parade and all of the events, visit


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